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Stocking Stuffer GIVEAWAY

Hello Friends.

Welcome to December! I feel like I wait ALL year long for this time of year. Then when Halloween hits and it's over, then BAM! It's Thanksgiving. And just when you can barely catch your breath, it's almost Christmas time!

I know that this is such a busy time of year for us all...ESPECIALLY for teachers! Not only are you planning for your own family, but you are trying to plan for your classroom, teacher gifts, gifts for the parents of the kids in your class, potlucks,  then holiday parties and EVERYTHING in between!

That's why a couple of my blogging friends and I got together and wanted to get you something special. A gift to show our appreciation for all that you do for your students!  We are EACH raffling off a few of our favorite stocking stuffer items THEN a BIG grand prize item (that means you can win ALL 8 gifts!!! #winning). It won't fit in a stocking, but because you've been extra good this year, you deserve an extra special gift. Want to know what it is? Keep reading friend.

For my stocking stuffers, I wanted to raffle off some of my favorite things that I used in the classroom.
 I don't know about you, but there is something VERY satisfying about  BRAND NEW markers for my anchor charts and POINTY TIPS on my flair pens. Anyone with me??? It's like cutting open a perfect avocado. No bumps. No bruises. Juuuuust perfect!

Enter here for my Stocking Stuffer raffle:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now... are you ready for the BIG GRAND PRIZE? We are giving ONE lucky winner a HP printer! Why? Because you've worked so hard and you deserve it for all you do for your kiddos!

This printer is the HP Office Jet 4650 Wireless ALL IN ONE Photo Printer with Mobile Printing and Instant Ink Ready!  With almost 3,000 reviews on Amazon, it's pretty awesome if you ask me!

Enter here for the printer:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wanna win some MORE prizes? Hop on over to my friend Ashely from the Wright Nook to see what goodies she's giving away.

A little hint: I spy some online shopping! :)

Easing Back into the School Year and a $100 TpT GIVEAWAY!

Hello Friends.

Thanks for hopping on over.

The Back to School frenzy has begun!

People have NO IDEA how much time teachers put into preparing for the school year. Purchasing, decorating, researching, printing, laminating, cutting, redecorating, purchasing, adding more, Googling, more purchasing... whew! I'm tired... and that's just in the summertime!

I know that A LOT of prep goes into starting off the school year so that you can be less stressed once it gets going. When I was in the classroom, I always had a couple of things in place to make the first weeks easier for me.

I want to share them with you in hopes that it can ease your load a little bit.

1. Memory Book

I always had kids start their memory book. What? In the beginning of the year??!! Yes! I would have them fill out the beginning of the year information and then stash it away far back in my cupboard for the end of the year. This helped me because towards the end of the year, it's crazy, too! And I used to wait and wait and wait for the copier because everyone else was copying their end of the year books, too. Then the copier would break. And I would scream in my head...and maybe out loud, too.

I used my Memory Book/Time Capsule Resource to compare the beginning of the year to the end of the year. My students traced their hands, cut yard that measured their height, wrote their names and listed interests and best friends. THEN I would take them out at the end of the year (all copied and ready to go) and have them work on it again. It was SO easy!

2. Back to School Night Flipbook

I  used a Back to School Night Flipbook template and just entered my own information. I used to make ALL these handouts and I knew parents would just trash them. They had SO many pages. One year I decided to get smart and condense everything. It was awesome because parents ACTUALLY kept these little flipbooks on their fridge. What??!!  Yes. It was easy to make and easy for parents to keep. A Win-Win for sure!

3. Reminder Notes

I needed help here. I would send home notes/forms/permission slips and kids would just shove them into the abyss (aka their backpack) never to be seen again. Especially in the beginning of the school year when I needed their emergency card filled out and I STILL had students who could not remember to tell their parents to fill them out.

I created these bands to help with that. No more forgetting to bring forms back. Students go home with these bands on their wrists as a reminder. It really is amazing!

4. Back to School Night Projects

Sounds crazy to have some projects up since school just started, right? Well, some teachers have used my Open House Activities Resource to do projects for their Back to School Night. Why not? It's easy because it's filled with templates for each project and detailed directions.

5. NO FUSS Writing Prompts

So once my school year started, if I could have someone take a small load off my shoulder, it would be a BIG help!  I wanted my kids to get started writing right away. Just so they could write something...anything so that I can have a comparison throughout the year. Plus, let's face it. Our kids need to work on writing as much as they can. I used to come up with journal prompts EVERYDAY and then write them out EVERYDAY! I hated writing them but did it because I saw so much growth and the prompts were fun, so it made our time fun. Seriously.

So I came up with an EASY, NO FUSS way to get students writing WRITE AWAY (see how I did that? :) ) without any prep. Just give them a piece of paper/ journal and a pencil then project this baby on the screen. Then have them share with each other. DONE! That's like almost 10 mins of breather time for you and fun/educational time for the kiddos!

Of course, there are so many fabulous resources out there to choose from but if you would like to use the ones I mentioned, I've linked them here:

Hope that you have a wonderful start to your school year!


When you make it back to me, you've gone through the loop and then you will click  below to enter for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers!

Good luck Friends!!

Now, hop over to Sunny and Bright in Primary to read Marcie's tip about making connections & copies!

How to Keep Kids From Overusing Media in the Summer

I have a love/hate relationship with media. 

I know that's the way the world is going and when you go on a field trip to Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and they tell you that kids need to start coding NOW if they ever want a job at the JPL caliber, you start to question if you should let your kids just have more screen time to "code", play Minecraft, Roblox, etc to understand the tech world.

But I couldn't deny the results that limiting screen time produced for my family. My kids got along SO much better. They were more patient with each other...not being able just to "swipe" their sister away to go onto the next screen. They were CREATIVE. And the things they produced... modding nerf guns, painting, drawing. Yes! My son drew and I had NO IDEA that he was the artist that he was until he didn't have the media time to FILL his time. So, he took a piece of paper and a pencil and began to draw. Then this....

WOW, right??!!!  He was 5 yrs old here and looked at a picture of Elsa while drawing it.

And while I know that the "right" kind of media is good and that there are SO many amazing coding programs out there, I was finding a hard time trying to balance it all. So in my best efforts to do so, 2 summers ago I tried this list with my kids. They groaned at first but soon it became routine.

It worked out so well that I wanted to share it with you here.

Background info:

My kids do not play media (video games/watch TV) during the school week. It started years ago because we were so busy with sports and homework that they just didn't have time. We saw great results so we just continued with that rule. We are going on 7 years of that now and we have not looked back since!  They do get media time on the weekends (Fri-Sun),  but it's only 1 hr of video games. They can earn up to 30 more mins. If we watch a family show together, that doesn't count as part of their time. I won't bore you with all the specific guidelines, so for those that want to know more, just comment below.


In the summer, my kids get media time (video games) every day. They get 1 hr a day plus they can earn an extra 30 mins.

BUT here is the kicker... they have a list to complete before they can get on their devices.

The list is easy and it's broken down into 3 sections: 

- Morning Routine
-  Exercise Your Brain
- Show Honor (basically, do something for someone else that does not benefit you at all)

**I crossed off playing outside because my kids already do that without me asking.

The kids check it off as they complete each item. Once the list is completed, they may get on their devices. I went to the Dollar Store and got little timers for each of them. They are in charge of their own time (my kids are at an age where they can do this. If you have littles, then you may need to monitor it for them). If I find that they are not being honest with it or they "forgot" to start their timer, then they lose their WHOLE time.  I just tell them that if they are not responsible enough to set and start a timer, then they are not yet responsible enough to have media time. I know...#meanmom.

Then the very next day, they miraculously become responsible and they don't forget to set/start their timer.


It's a true miracle!

If you are interested in creating a list for yourself, here is a link to the Google doc. It's an editable one just for you! It's actually my PowerPoint Template and may look a little wonky since you may not have my same fonts, but you can use whatever fonts you have. :) You WILL NEED Power Point to edit this document.

Editable Summer Screen Time Rules

If you have other ways to limit screen time in the summer, I'd love to hear about it. If you do decide to use a variation of my check list, then I'd also love to hear about how it's going for you!

Enjoy your summer!


How to Bring the Joy Back into Classroom Writing

Hello Friends.

It's near the end of the year. I get it. You are tired. No, no. NOT just tired... but you're actually crawling to the finish line. You're almost there, my friend!

So WHY am I talking about writing at this point in the year? Well, for many reasons.

1. You still want the kids to behave before summer brains kick in and they have forgotten ALL the classroom/school rules

2. You still need some resemblance of order as you wind down your school year
3.  You want to have fun at the end of the year and if you can incorporate some sort of learning ..then HECK YES!

Believe it or not, I have something that will help you with all these concerns AND it's fun, fast, and EASY for you (more on that later)!

I'm not sure if you've ever done journal writing in your classroom, but it seriously was our class favorite when I was still in the classroom! Kids would share their writings with their peers and I would pick a couple kids to read their journal aloud. Kids would laugh when responding to silly prompts and it was just plain FUN. Yep! I said it. Journal writing was fun!

We didn't worry about spelling (**GASP** I know, right??)

We didn't worry about punctuation.

We didn't worry about correct grammar.

My main goal was just to allow their creativity and thoughts to flow out. I wanted them to be able to express themselves without the worry of "getting it all right". There will be time and other assignments for corrections and lessons, but for now....for this... I just wanted them to freely express themselves.

WOW. Can I just share with you the pure freedom? The pure joy that I saw take place?

This time transformed into a time where my students could feel like they were not being "judged" or "corrected" for their lack of skills BUT praised for their wonderful creativity. It was a game changer.

That's when their joy of writing came in.

My students loved journal time because it was a time for them to freely express themselves. They didn't have to worry if they spelled this or that word correctly, or if this needed to be capitalized or not. Those thoughts didn't hinder them from continuing to write their ideas on paper.

If this sounds interesting and you have a plethora of high engaging journal prompts, then I would challenge you to try letting your students be a bit more free without your corrections. But if you were anything like me and need some FUN high interest prompts but don't have the time to go searching for them, this is where I can help!

This resource has EVERYTHING you need for the month and it really only takes a few minutes each day. 

There are prompts for EVERY school day of the month and optional word banks for younger students or for those who need the extra help with ideas.

This resource was created to have the same routine every week so that kids know what to expect:

Day 1 – Finish the sentence (prompt)

Day 2 – Would you rather….?
Day 3 – Make a list (competition)
Day 4 – Quick Write (one word for 2-3 mins)
Day 5 – Would you rather…?

This is the order of the slides, BUT you can use the prompts however you wish in any order. 

I love this resource because it's fast, easy, and comes in Google Slides, PowerPoint, and is also a DIGITAL resource.. which means that it can be PAPERLESS because students can type right onto the slides!

So whether you project it onto your classroom screen or push it out digitally to your students on their devices, it’s EASY for YOU because there is NO PRINTING involved! YAY! No more waiting at the copier just in time for it to break down. Or maybe that just always happened to me. 

I know that right about this time of the year, my students always needed a fun way to learn. We are just mentally D.O.N.E. and I'm usually winding down my school year. I love that they can still continue to write and learn AND have FUN in the process.

That's a WIN-WIN for sure!

So what about you? Do you worry about spelling and grammar at journal time? If so, do you think that you can let it go...even just for a little bit? 



Depth of Knowledge

Hello Friends.

New Year. New Goals. Now that the school year is well on its way, we all have new things that we want to try for our classroom this New Year.

If you have not incorporated Depth of Knowledge questions/prompts, then now is a great time to start! I can help you (more on that in a bit).

Did you know practicing Depth of Knowledge (DOK) questions/prompts can help improve critical thinking skills? If you're unfamiliar with DOKs, I would highly encourage you to Google it.  I'm not going to go in depth with it's meanings but here they are in a nutshell.

DOK in a Nutshell
There are 4 DOK levels.  Each level reflects a different level of cognitive expectation, or depth of knowledge, required to complete the task.

DOK 1 - Recall and Reproduction
DOK 2 - Skills and Concepts
DOK 3 - Short Term Strategic Thinking
DOK 4 - Extended Thinking

DOK tasks are great to work through with your students. I have found with my own kids that doing a think aloud of my thought process allows them to see the cognitive pathways that I'm taking.

Some teachers don't know where to begin or don't even have the time to pull resources and DOK questions/prompts/tasks together. Don't worry. Remember? I got your back.

I created a DOK kit just for YOU.

 Isn't she purdy?

This comes complete with class posters:

DOK leveled tasks:

Labels for jars/containers:

and editable labels so that you can add your own tasks:

If you're anything like me, time is PRECIOUS! So is money, cause it ain't growing on trees. Because of that,  I created this resource to be an ink saver. It's in black and white. Just choose the color paper/cardstock you want and print onto that!

I don't have time to be cutting out 101 circles (plus, I'm a horrible cutter), so the BEST and FASTEST way to do this is with a circle cutter.

I created this with BUSY teachers in mind, so the circles are spaced around the edges perfectly so that you can just punch them out easily.  I flip the cutter upside down so that I can see what I'm cutting out. This is a 2.5" circle cutter and can be purchased at any craft store or click on my Amazon affiliate link below.

I glued the circle to craft sticks, put the DOK labels on mason jars, and then put them in a tin utensil carrying case that I found at some random store. I love it because it has a handle on it. You can carry it around to your reading table for small groups, then to the front of the room for class discussions, or even to a literacy center. I just LOVE that it's easy to transport because I don't always stay in one area!

So if you haven't really gotten started on DOKs or want to get better at them, I think this resource could really help you out.


I used this circle punch:

I can't find the exact utensil carrier, but here is one that will work well. It even has extra space for some teacher supplies. The comments say that mason jars do fit in the compartments.

Thanks for reading friends! Have a great day!